McKenzie: The end is in sight
For the first time in this tortured process, we can now measure
what's left of the lockout in days as opposed to weeks or months.
Canadians can celebrate Canada Day on Friday and Americans, the small
minority that actually like hockey that is, can have their Fourth of
July celebration on Monday, reasonably secure in the knowledge that
the long-awaited agreement is within sight.
The sense is it should be finished sometime next week, with an
outside chance it could carry over into the week of July 11th, but in
any case, we're talking a small number of days.
Either way, the countdown is now on, it's almost over.
But what are we counting down to?
If the agreement is reached, say, Wednesday of next week, what's
going to happen? Will there be a big news conference to mark the
Probably not. Until this deal gets ratified by both sides, probably
within a week or so of the agreement, there is not going to be a big
dog and pony show, with Gary Bettman and Bob Goodenow putting on the
goofy "Game On" hats like in 1995. Truth be told, it would be a huge
surprise if you even see Bettman and Goodenow together on a dais.
The details of the new CBA will no doubt become public before the
deal is ratified. They have to. General managers, agents, everyone in
hockey has to figure out this new system because once it's ratified,
the NHL will be open for business again and everyone will have to hit
the ground running.
When the NHL commissioner, with a new CBA in hand, signed, sealed and
delivered, steps up to the microphone to say the lockout is
officially over, it will be more about re-launching and re-branding
the NHL game than actually ending the lockout.
We shouldn't be surprised if the new NHL logo is unveiled. And 1995's
slogan, Game On, will be replaced by its 2005 marketing equivalent --
"It's a whole new game."
And it will be. The myriad of new rule changes are likely to be
unveiled. They could even throw in the draft lottery to make things